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Something Surprising

At HSBC Cheltenham Music Festival crack

The HSBC Cheltenham Music Festival promises two weeks of sublime classical performances in some of the Cotswolds’ most stunning venues. The line-up of internationally acclaimed musicians reads as a role call of the classical greats: Steven Isserlis; Sarah Connolly; Alina Ibragimova; Alfie Boe; Brett Dean and James Gilchrist all feature. Concerts include some of the world’s most beloved classical pieces - don’t miss a spectacular rendition of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, a star-spangled celebration of Rodgers and Hammerstein and an evening of opera favourites including works by Bizet, Verdi and Puccini.

However, inspired by the festival’s classical core is a programme of diverse musical riches which may be just as at home across the other three Cheltenham Festivals – Jazz, Science and Literature.

Brand new for 2010 the Sound Mind series brings elements of the Science Festival into the programme by exploring the connections of music, the mind and the brain. Inspired by anniversaries of composers Gesualdo, Schumann and Wolf the strand features lively debate from musicians and musicologists alongside top neuroscientists. Curated by Meurig Bowen with Professor Ray Tallis, this Wellcome Trust funded series includes events on: ‘When Mahler Met Freud’, ‘The Sound of Melancholia’, an investigation of syphilis in the 19th century in ‘Venus, Mercury and St Cecilia’, and one on music therapy, ‘Does Music Make You Better?’. Also, look out for Science Festival favourite Robert Winston...

Another blossoming new element to this year’s programme is a number of enticing words-and-music events. Literature Festival favourites Michael Morpurgo and Julia Donaldson head to Cheltenham to delight younger festival fans. Look out for music from Morpurgo’s west-end production of War Horse and a delightfully fun-filled singalong event with Donaldson featuring everyone’s favourite bedtime story – The Gruffalo.

Elsewhere acclaimed actor Simon Callow joins Steven Isserlis to explore Schumann’s extraordinary relationships with fellow composer Brahms and his wife Clara; Patricia Routledge stars in a tribute to Myra Hess and former Poet-Laureate Andrew Motion’s poems accompany Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.

Hot on the heels of the hugely successful Jazz Festival, two outstanding jazz performers are welcomed to the Music Festival. As part of a new partnership with the Norwegian Embassy, Norwegian saxophone master Jan Garbarek returns to Cheltenham for a stunning performance in Gloucester Cathedral. Joined by vocal quartet the Hilliard Ensemble this promises to be an evening of beautiful ‘crossover’ music in a sensational venue.

In the Parabola Arts Centre, the festival’s newest venue, outstanding jazz pianist and composer Gwilym Simcock joins forces with one of the finest young British string quartets the Sacconis. This relaxed, late night concert promises improvised piano interludes form Simcock, and movements from Ravel, Smetana and Dvorak – alongside a brand new festival commission.

In 2010 the HSBC Cheltenham Music Festival promises so much more than breathtaking classical music – with outstanding speakers, inspiring scientific adventures and up-and-coming jazz, this year’s programme promises a taste of all four of Cheltenham’s internationally renowned festivals.

So, pick up a programme, dive in, and you may just be surprised!

Full programme available at:
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